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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mrs. Dubeli goes to America—or does she? German/English/Confusion Galore

I’m having writer’s block, or something similar. After finishing two novels, I have been working on a third one. I figured I’ll make the series “Family Portrait” a trilogy with “An Uncommon Family” and “Love of a Stonemason” as part one and two. I wrote about 70 pages of part three, only to realize I’m running out of steam. The first part of the novel went really well, but now I’m stuck.

So, I figured perhaps it’s time to put it aside for now and write something totally new. Since I’m in Switzerland and have been doing a lot of German reading and writing, I thought about writing something in German for a change. I began a story with the title “Mrs. Dubeli goes to America” or, in German, “Frau Dübeli geht nach Amerika.“ It’s about an older Swiss lady whose husband worked in California off and on. During one of the trips there, he was found dead at the bottom of a cliff overhanging the Pacific Ocean. After getting over the initial shock and grief, Mrs. Dubeli begins to have doubts about the official version of her husband’s accidental death. She knew that he was extremely afraid of heights and would never even think of stepping that close to a cliff where he could fall down. Something was fishy here and the feisty and resolute Swiss woman decides to travel to California to find out for herself what happened to her husband.

Good and well, but now what? There are lots of possible scenarios. I keep switching from one to the other. I keep changing things and then abandon the ideas again.

1) He was pushed, because he was a danger to someone? Whom? Why?
2) He had an affair, fathered a child, and killed himself out of desperation?
3) He had an affair, fathered a child, and someone killed him? The lover? The lover’s husband?
4) He was involved in some shady business and ???
5) ???
6) ???

Oh, what a crack of you know what! I toss the notebook aside and go switch on the espresso machine.

On top of it, I keep switching back and forth between English and German and when I come to a point where I’m more than confused and afraid I’ll never write another decent story again, I flee from writing all together and keep on reading novel after novel. In the middle of reading a novel, I have a panic attack—but I’m supposed to write, damn it. I wake up in the middle of the night, sweating and screaming. HELP.
I try traveling, visiting friends, enjoying the beautiful landscape here but as far as my writing wasteland is concerned, nothing has helped so far.

Hey, does that sound familiar to anyone?
Well, cheers anyway!


  1. I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling right now! I'll send you a chicken for inspiration if you want.

    Just know that this difficult time will pass. After reading your work, it's clear that you're a writer. It'll come out eventually. It has to. You'll probably be doing something rather mundane when your muse descends, and then you won't be able to stop writing.


  2. Hi Neal, thanks for the kind words. Yes, that's how it usually works, but when I'am in that kind of a dry period, I get panicky. Chicken, huh? Why not? Might just do the trick!

  3. Oh yes, oh yes, it sounds familiar to me! Not only could I not decide which novel to write next, I couldn't make decisions on plot points. So now I'm writing short stories.

    The words will come. If you force them, you'll probably end up editing out most of them anyway. Just breathe.

    Are these your photos? If so, where were they taken?

  4. Hi Linda,
    Thanks for dropping by. I figured you could relate, since you went through a similar period. The first photo is of a mountain in Switzerland, the second one is the view from a path in Cambria up to the Cambria Pines Lodge, the next one and the one of me holding the wine glass are from Switzerland and the last one, the stone desert landscape is from Peru.

  5. This too shall pass. It seems to happen to all writers. Something will just click and you will be off and running with one or both of your stories. I often stop and write short stories for a bit before going back into my WIP. I find that helps. Your Frau Dübeli story would make a great short story. Maybe she goes to America, never does find out what really happened to her husband, but learns something new about herself.......

  6. Thanks, Darlene!

    In the meantime, part three of The Family Portrait is done and awaits final proofreading. You were right about this; it just took off again. Now, I have to step away from the trilogy and try to send the characters on a vacation, so I can work on something totally new. Perhaps I'll get back to Frau Dübeli. This story still haunts me and I may work at it again and see where it takes me.